$1 bill that launched Edison Light Company to auction for $12,000

A dollar bill received for the first sale of the Edison Electric Light is one of many highlights in Bonhams' forthcoming Treasures from The Caren Archive auction on April 7.

Held in New York, the sale encompasses rare ephemera such as newspapers, photographs and manuscripts from the 16th century to the 1960s.

All about the Washingtons? Edison's company soon saw money flowing and is now part of the fourth largest company in the world

The $1 bill, which has a $12,000 high estimate, was given to the Edison Electric Light Company - Thomas Edison's vehicle for the first electric light bulb - by the Ansonia Brass Co, the first customer to settle its account. It is inscribed:

"This bill is one from a total amount of $50.40 which was the first bill collected for the sale of the Edison Electric Light in first Central Station District, New York City. Jan. 18/1883".

It is signed by Edison's chief engineer, Thomas L Clarke.

Thomas Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City in 1878, enlisting financiers such as JP Morgan and the Vanderbilt family.

Making his first public demonstration on New Year's Eve in 1879, he declared: "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles."

The first commercial usage of his lightbulb came just a year later in 1880, when the company installed a full lighting system in a new steamship called the Columbia.

Edison's invention - one of many important innnovations during his lifetime - revolutionised lighting across the world. However, the company is also crucial to America's corporate history; now known as General Electric, what was once the Edison Electric Light Company is now the fourth largest company in the world.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic autograph from Thomas Edison on a copy of the annual report of the Edison Spanish Colonial Light Company, established in 1882 to protect Edison's patents in Latin America.

Also starring from The Caren Archive is a rare Jesse James wanted poster. See more of the extraordinary lots offered.

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